How to Grow a Giant Sunflower
Here's Jamie with UK record Sunflower Head measuring 26.2" in diameter and 67" circumference
For a Giant head sunflower here are a few tips-
1. Firstly -- Choose the Right Strain
Our strain has been developed over the last ten years and has consistently proven to be the largest ever grown in the UK. In September 2011 Jamie, my son, broke the UK record for the largest sunflower head measuring 67" in circumference 26.2" diameter
2. Site and Soil Preparation Are Critical
Sunflowers need full sun; they need on average 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day - the more the better if you are trying to grow them to their maximum potential. Choose a well-drained location, and prepare your soil by digging an area of about 2-3 feet in circumference to a depth of about 2 feet. Sunflowers are heavy feeders and deplete the soil more than many other crops - especially if you are growing them to reach a massive height so the nutrient supply must be replenished each season.
Work in a slow release granular fertilizer - one that also contains trace minerals-- about 8 in. deep into your soil. We use a mineral fertilizer such as Osmocote. Depending on your soil, you may wish to add, in addition to composted manure and an organic slow-release balanced fertiliser, an organic amendment containing trace minerals such as greensand or dried seaweed.
3. The Right Way to Sow and Thin For Success
To grow the largest sunflowers, it is essential to direct sow seed directly into the garden, rather than start them in pots of any kind. This is because sunflowers have long taproots that grow quickly and become stunted if confined. Peat pots in particular often dry out and block off root growth. Despite many gardener's best intentions, transplanting often gets postponed - so beat the odds and plan to sow seeds in the ground.
Since sunflowers that are planted in midsummer often flower on shorter stalks, sow your giant sunflowers earlier-as soon as all danger of frost is past and night temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit both day and night. The ideal spacing in rows for giant sunflowers with large seed heads is 20 in. apart. If you plant closer, you might get taller stalks but smaller heads. If you plant further apart, the seed head may be larger, but possibly too heavy for the stalk to bear. If you have limited space,
To sow seeds, water your soil, and press seeds 1" deep in clumps of 5-6 seeds about 6-8" apart. Put slug pellets in a circle around the clump, and cover loosely with netting to protect emerging seedlings from birds. If the soil is kept moist, seedlings will appear within 5-10 days. The point of this gradual thinning method is to ensure that you're left with at least one good seedling in the event that predators damage any of the others. Remember, it's critical to thin back to the best single seedling if you're going for giant sunflowers. Leaving even several seedlings growing too close together will keep you from growing a giant in your garden.
4. Feeding and Care of Your Growing Giant
Feed often and water regularly. While the plant is small, water around the root zone, about 3-4 in. from the plant with about 2 litres of properly diluted liquid fertiliser solution per week. For larger plants, scrape out a small doughnut-shaped moat about 18 inches around the plant and about four inches deep. Pour several litres of properly diluted liquid fertiliser around every week. Sunflower roots can grow to 4 feet below the soil surface. Avoid pouring fertiliser directly on the stems, since this can cause them to rot.
Another feeding method for larger plants is to cut a 4" pipe around 12" long and drive into the ground. Three times a week, fill the holes with properly diluted liquid fertiliser.
Care for giant sunflowers as if they were members of your family. Be attentive to weather forecasts, especially, as your plants become taller and more top-heavy. When heavy winds are predicted, delay watering to reduce their chances of blowing over. Staking isn't usually necessary for sunflowers, but it can be helpful in extremely windy areas or if they must be grown in conditions that are too crowded or in too much shade.
5. Harvesting and Enjoying Giant Seed heads
As the petals fall off, the centre florets dry up and the seed kernels begin to swell in the disks, carefully climb a stepladder and cover your flower head with a mesh. This keeps marauding birds from robbing your seeds so that the heads look perfect and complete when you are ready to show them off to friends or proudly display them at your local village show. Cut the stalks about a foot down the stem for the show.
6. Giant Fun for All Ages
Growing our strain of sunflowers is a great way for getting children inspired to enjoy the garden. Like Jack's beanstalk, the plants grow quickly skyward, and the flower heads look cheerful and lion-like. Tall sunflowers can be planted in formation: as forests, playhouses or teepees. You can even grow colorful vines like scarlet runner beans up the stalks if you give the sunflowers several weeks head start. It's easy to get children involved in the excitement of watching how tall a family sunflower grows each day, or let them compete on their own! My son is involved with his school gardening club and thoroughly enjoys teaching all of his friends how to grow all different types of fruit and vegetables
If you are interested in purchasing giant sunflower seeds please visit here